Kurt didn't like this one bit. They'd been waiting for over an hour and still no sign of Isaacson's contact.
More worrisome were the phone instructions Char had received after leaving the food court. They were too hasty - the speaker too unsure of himself - to have been planned ahead. It smelled of desperation. Desperation got people killed.
Kurt leaned back on the railing in front of the monkey sanctuary, trying not to breathe in the funky combination of feces and fresh hay.
One hundred yards away, Char paced in front of the women's bathroom near the wooded area, surreptitiously checking her watch. Every so often her hand strayed to the small of her back - patting the leather coat as if for reassurance the gun-fairy hadn't taken her piece.
Gary, unsurprisingly, hovered near the food cart up the path. Fat, jolly, and stuffing his face, he fit right in here.
Triangulated between the three of them was the hub of the zoo. Isaacson could come from any direction, but they had a good view.
They were still fumbling in the dark, though. The instructions were eventually clear, but the reasoning wasn't. All they knew was that Isaacson wanted Char out in the open. They still had yet to figure out what Charlotte's mother had to do with this and why Charlotte in particular was at the center of this.
The only thing Kurt and Gary had going for them was the the Bank of America cluster. It had distracted the Isaacson clan from finding out about Charlotte hooking up with the FBI. But they still had to be careful. Especially since Martin had been caught.
"Here we go." Charlotte's voice tickled Kurt's right ear through the wire they'd rigged. Goosebumps popped up on his neck at the sound. It wasn't the only thing that popped up though, and it irritated him. This was not the time for distraction.
He scratched his forehead to talk into his wrist piece. "Don't screw this up, Templeton."
"That's your job, remember?" No trace of seduction in her response.
"You kids play nice." Gary cut in. "Isaacson's guys are at your four o'clock, Forman."
Kurt stretched and meandered along the railing towards Char, pretending to peruse a zoo map. More than once he almost tripped over a rugrat, charging around unsupervised.
The contacts were vaguely familiar from the Isaacson roster of thugs. Both of medium height with dark hair. One had a crooked nose. They stood out simply because they were two muscular men, unsmiling, and obviously not here for the animals.
"Why are there two?" Char said. Her voice remained steady, but was a little hurried. "There should only be one."
Kurt saw her turn around and roll her neck to the side. Her dark hair slid back and forth in the sunlight.
It was a good question. "We're right here," he said. "Right behind you."
Isaacons's men walked past the botanical display directly in front of Kurt. He waited ten seconds and followed their path as noncommitally as his adrenaline allowed.
The thought of them getting near Charlotte alarmed him. He'd been watching her for weeks now, since finding out a Hire had been placed on one of the Templetons. Danger had just never been this close. It shouldn't have bothered him this much. She was just another way from the FBI to get to Isaacson.
"Kurt, I don't like this." Gary said. He had walked closer to the hub, too. "Something feels off."
Char turned and faced Kurt. From across the way he could see her lips move. "I really don't want to hear that, Carlson, thanks. I-----now----let's---" Static cut off her words.
"Charlotte, we're losing you." Kurt said, as Isaacson's men cut off his view. They were only a few feet from her now.
A field trip of elementary kids shrieked into Kurt's path, balloons flying and cotton candy snagging everything they passed. Kurt found himself tangled amongst them, afraid he now stuck out in the crowd. "Gary," he said, " I can't see what's happening."
His partner's reply fuzzed out "--her---woods---can't see---"
"No, no, no." Kurt muttered to himself. He batted a balloon out of his face and stumbled over the mini roadblocks, earning a protest from one of the chaperones.
He finally cleared from the crowd. Only to find Char and was gone.